Reality TV and the Rise of the ‘Celebrity’

Reality TV and the Rise of the ‘Celebrity’ | By Carmella De Lucia

The other day I was browsing the shelves of one of my favourite bookstores – Waterstones, when I came across a new story, recently out in paperback style.
The title screamed: ‘Chantelle – Living the Dream’.
I stood for a few seconds, literally quite dumbfounded by what I was seeing. Sadly, despite the fact that I had never watched a single episode of the so-called ‘Celebrity Big Brother’, I still knew exactly who this Chantelle was and how she had rose to sudden public notoriety. I knew that she had simply been put in a house alongside exceedingly minor ‘celebrities’ and pretended that she was a star.


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Fortunately for the girl, it was the best move she had ever made, as less than twelve months later, here I was stood in Waterstones holding the autobiography of her short, yet albeit adventurous life.

The vast influx of reality TV shows on our screens, such as ‘Big Brother’, ‘X Factor’ and the dastardly ‘Love Island’ have ensured that television ratings soar every year. Viewers are able to witness and take pleasure in the laughter, tears, tantrums and the humiliations of ordinary people like you and me, or ‘celebrities’ who are looking to give their flailing career a significant boost.
Programmes such as these just serve to bore me beyond belief personally, and I long for the days of ‘real TV’, if indeed, such a thing exists. The days when gritty television dramas with clever, well written scripts were enough to satisfy viewers are truly gone, for Reality TV continues to grow exponentially every single year.

This fact evokes odd feelings in me. I feel a little sad, bemused- even a bit of despair when I think of what our society has become in the past few years.
It is not so much the shows themselves that I despise. In fact, despite the sheer banality of them generally, sometimes, (on the very odd occasion, mind) I have been known to find the odd clip of a reality TV show mildly entertaining. But I mean, who wouldn’t want to watch someone chomping their way through a kangaroo’s anus in the middle of a jungle – celebrity or no celebrity?


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No, what I find so depressing, is the way in which society now comes to celebrate and even worship normal, exceedingly dull, everyday people, as supposed ‘celebrities’. I may be behind with the times, but I thought that in order to become a celebrity, you were required to ‘do’ something in order to become famous; you know- be in a pop band, write your own songs, act in a film.
Apparently, all we now need to do in order to get our autobiography on the shelves and have OK! Magazine camped outside our front door, is sit in a house doing nothing, but being watched by millions of viewers across the country. Therefore, despite having no discernable talent to speak of, likes of ‘Nikki Grahame’ and ‘Jade Goody’ simply went into the Big Brother house as regular people, and came out of it as the UK’s most sought after ‘celebrities’.

Now, that doesn’t seem very fair to all those real celebrities who work hard at their professions to get their name into the papers everyday, does it?
I may be in the minority here, but I have tried and failed miserably to see the appeal of watching twelve people sat aimlessly in a house, bickering and cat fighting for weeks on end. Unlike almost everyone else in the country, I have been unsuccessful in finding the show as wildly exciting as others do.

So what is it that draws everybody to shows like these then? Is it that the people who take part are thrust into the show exposing themselves warts and all, with no script to follow – therefore anything could happen? Or is it that reality TV ‘thrives on love, hate, revenge, ambition and jealousy’ – all powerful attributes, says America TV critic Dylan Swizzler, that inspired Shakespeare’s best tragedies.

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Who knows? But what we can safely say for sure, is that reality TV programmes and society’s insistent celebration of their participants, is far from over.

These shows just keep on coming, and sadly for those of us that loathe it, there’s not a thing we can do about it.
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